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By AFP


Spain morale is sky high after Italy win: coach

'(I feel) satisfaction and pride,' Luis De La Fuente told reporters.


Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said his team’s morale was “sky high” after they beat Italy on Thursday to reach the Nations League final against Croatia.

La Roja snatched a late winner through Joselu after Italy’s Ciro Immobile cancelled out Yeremy Pino’s opening goal.

The coach had been criticised heavily after his first two matches in March, the second of which was a defeat by Scotland.

“(I feel) satisfaction and pride, I think we played an extremely high-level game,” De la Fuente told reporters.

“We followed what we had prepared to the letter. We’re happy and our morale is sky-high.”

The coach handed Robin Le Normand his debut after the French-born defender obtained Spanish nationality in May, and the Real Sociedad player impressed despite conceding an early penalty for handball.

“We have seen him so many times, I was very calm, he’s shown he’s top draw, he’s cool-headed, he’s another player for the cause and the future of Spanish football,” said De la Fuente.

“He is very calm, he doesn’t get nervous in tough situations. There was the accidental situation, he had the bad luck of hitting the ball with his hand. 

“(But his level) doesn’t surprise us, that’s how he is, he’s very good.”

Italy coach Roberto Mancini said he wished he had approached the second half with more attacking intent.

The coach stuck to the 3-5-2 formation he opted for at the start and watched his team fade as Spain took control.

A ‘significant defeat’ for Italy

“I think it is a significant defeat because I care about it and I would have liked to have make it to the final,” said Mancini.

“We could have gone to a back four, knowing we would have given them a bit more ball than they ordinarily have. 

“Maybe we could have taken up a higher block and been more attacking. We dropped off too much in the second half, absolutely.”

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